Here are a few ads I located about 15 yrs ago when I started really getting into the whiskey research. They are most likely the same ads Thomas refers to in his books, but comingled or confused them in the text. I thought it would be cool for everyone to see the actual ads without editing as they appeared in the day. These ads are from the Wine Dealer's Gazette and are interesting because they put a few things a little more into perspective, especially re the Clubhouse bottle date and Blue Grass Whiskey. Morrison's Sept 1872 ad for "Blue Grass whiskey", which originated from the Blue Grass region of Ky, was sold by other S.F. liquor dealers as well. The J.M Gowey & Co. ad next to Morrison's helps clarify this, where you can see in the ad that more than one dealer was importing it to the West. Morrison's angle was to cite the names of the ships that his barrel lots arrived on, as sometimes ships had a rocky voyage around the horn, and their cargo's survival was much appreciated. It was also thought it kept the whiskey in the barrels further aged and agitated by having endured a lengthy journey in rough seas.
Note: Contrary to the Thomas book, there is no mention in the above Sept 1872 ad of California Clubhouse bourbon arriving on the Kingfisher or Moonbeam ships. The Thomas book seems to have combined the above ad, the other guy's Blue Grass Whiskey ad (EJ Curley) sold by JM Gowey of S.F. , and the Aug 1874 Crop of 1870-71 ad... and mixed them all together like reading one ad. I think it is critical to note this, because knowing this puts the date of the Clubhouse bottles more into where I feel they should be... 1874-5. The first mention of Cal Clubhouse bourbon I could find in any of Morrison's ads was in the Aug 1874 ad shown below. It states that all the bourbons in the ad are from the crop of 1870-71. For whiskey to be classified as a bourbon, it should be four yrs old and must be at least three yrs old minimum. In my opinion, Clubhouse bourbon had just attained that minimum mark, and 1874 was the first time it was introduced to be sold on the market
Another interesting ad appears in Aug 1874 Wine Dealer's Gazette (it wasnt clear enough to scan, so I will transcribe it) that also refers to a ship voyage and lists what Morrison calls his favorite brands of three and 4 yr old bourbon whiskies that he sells. Note that the Clubhouse product was part of this 1874 shipment and had an eight month voyage. In my opinion, this was the maiden voyage for Cal Clubhouse bourbon. The ad is transcribed below exactly as it appeared in the Gazette....
Fire Copper Hand-Made and Sour
The following favorite brands:
and Stag C. D.
Direct from the Nelson Distillery Jefferson County
Kentucky, with the benefit of an eight month voyage,
now landing and for sale in lots to suit purchasers,
from ship or wharf with the government original
certificate of gauges, proofs, and capacity of barrels;
also regauged by the City Gauger.
JOHN C. MORRISON, JR.
Agent and Proprietor,
316 Sacramento and 321 Commercial Sts.
Stag C.D. (which I believe the "C.D." represents "Copper Distilled") appears to have been his biggest seller. Judging by ads, it also had the longest run. Can you guys imagine what an embossed bottle for this would've looked like ! I can see a giant full-face Stag pictured on the bottle. Too bad Morrison didnt order a bottle for this one ! I think he had the California Clubhouse bottle made and no other embossed bottles for his other brands because he felt that bourbon was going to be a very special product for the West and was made special and exclusive for him to sell in California. He was the only importer of it.
Below is an original Stag C.D. billhead from my collection, dated Sept 5, 1873, that also has Morrison's autograph on the reverse side where he signed the invoice as being paid in full. I found it unusual that the billhead doesnt mention any of his other brands. Most billheads list the dealer's principal product line. Was Stag CD such a big seller that it had its own billheads? Then why no embossed bottle ??